Stefan Chidesa, a Romanian infant, was born with the fingers on his right hand fused together. Thanks to orthopaedists Thomas Harries, M.D., and Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D., and with anesthesiologist David Corddry, M.D., Stefan will soon have 10 fingers on which to count.
Stefan was born in the southern part of Romania, near Bucharest. His mother, Felicia Chidesa, was told Stefan should not have surgery for at least a year. "I couldn't find anyone who would do the surgery until he was older," said Ms. Chidesa, a high school English teacher.
"The doctors were guessing at when it was safe to begin the surgery to fix Stefan's hand. This made me think it was possible to do it sooner rather than later."
A German doctor confirmed her concern by telling her the longer she waited, the more malformed her son's hand would become because it would not grow as fast as the other hand. Ms. Chidesa, the wife of a Baptist pastor, contacted Dr. Doina Zuba, a Romanian-American doctor she had met while hosting a medical missionary group sent by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Annapolis. Dr. Zuba found a doctor in America who would perform the surgery immediately, but it would cost the family $25,000.
"We were devastated," Ms. Chidesa said. "We couldn't have raised that much money, even in our entire life time."
But the Annapolis church congregation was undaunted and decided to contact Dr. Harries, a member of the church who also happens to be a member of the Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center. Dr. Harries, along with Dr. Gelfand, one of his partners and a hand specialist, and Dr. Corddry, an anesthesiologist specializing in pediatric care, agree to perform the surgery at no cost to the family. The hospital donated it's services as well.
"I think there is a desire in a lot of physicians to do things like this - it's why we went into medicine," Dr. Harries said. "To be able to help someone who might not otherwise have access to this kind of medical care is an amazing feeling. You get much more out of it than you give."
After the surgery, Dr. Gelfand called Ms. Chidesa to find out how Stefan was doing. "It is not something that would have happened in my country," she said. "In my country, you call the doctor if there is a problem. People have reached out to us so much."
The church congregation and the doctors donated everything from the plane tickets to the housing to the surgery. To show her gratitude, Ms. Chidesa created a photo album of her town for the doctors and brought them hand-crafted traditional gifts from her country.
"I wanted to give them a reminder of what they did for a Romanian boy," Ms. Chidesa said. "I want them to know that his family will always be grateful to them and pray for them."
The doctors have decided to create a long-lasting reminder of their own - a foundation to help other children like Stefan.
"Helping Stefan has been such a positive experience that Dr. Harries and I have decided to set up a foundation to help more children," Dr. Gelfand said. "And Stefan's mother said she would like to help."
Stefan - Post Op
Saving a Tiny Hand from Bolivia
Our second case was Luis from Bolivia who had a condition in his hands that would have likely become malignant if untreated. Luis Miguel Yana Mamani arrived in Annapolis on August 19, 2006 and his series of hand surgeries at Anne Arundel Medical Center began on August 31st. Orthopedists Jeff Gelfand, Tom Dennis, Garth Smith, Ed Holt and anesthesiologist Dave Corddry performed the surgery.
The First Hand Foundation, a philanthropic foundation set up by associates of the Cerner Corporation, provided travel, food, and lodging for the child and his family and half of the prosthesis costs for the reconstruction.
Luis Miguel Hana Mamani is the second child to receive care through a collaborative between the Helping Hands Foundation and the AAMC Foundation.
WJZ-TV in Baltimore released a news video that shows Luis and his post-operative efforts. Click here to view the video.
Transplant Restores Hand ... and Self Confidence
On the morning of July 20, Rocio Duran Poma was wheeled into an AAMC operating room with nine fingers and 10 toes. More than 10 hours later, the young woman from Bolivia awoke to find her hands complete.
Ms. Duran Poma was the beneficiary of a toe-to-hand transfer for thumb reconstruction, a complex combination of orthopedic and microvascular surgery conducted by orthopedic surgeons Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D., and visiting orthopedic surgeon John A. McFadden, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Ms. Duran Poma was injured while doing work on her mother’s house in La Paz, Bolivia, nearly two years ago. A boulder fell on her, injuring her ankle, clavicle and shoulder, and damaging her right hand to the point that the thumb had to be amputated. “The accident that took my thumb changed everything in my life,” said Ms. Duran Poma through a translator. “I was in school, and suddenly I couldn’t write. I was immediately self conscious, isolating myself from people and friends.”
By surgically attaching her right big toe to the position her thumb occupied on her right hand, Drs. Gelfand and McFadden began the process that will allow Ms. Duran Poma to once again regain nearly full function of her right hand.
“Without an opposable thumb, a patient loses all the unique functions of a human hand,” said Dr. Gelfand. “The loss of a thumb can devastate a person’s ability to grasp and manipulate objects. A toe-to-hand transfer can restore stability, strength and mobility to the human hand by recreating the opposable thumb.”
Ms. Duran Poma was brought from Bolivia to AAMC by the Helping Hands Foundation, a group of surgeons on the AAMC medical staff who perform reconstructive surgery on individuals who typically would not have treatment because of cost or lack of access.
According to Dr. Gelfand, she was an ideal surgical candidate for the procedure. Her amputation had left the muscles, arteries, and nerves that moved and provided sensation for the thumb intact—only the thumb was missing. Through microsurgery, surgeons transferred her toe to her hand and attached those viable structures of her hand to the nerves, tendons, bones, and blood vessels of her toe.
The surgery was the first of its kind at AAMC. She returned home in mid- August, where she undergoes rehabilitation and continues her recovery. She no longer wears a glove to hide her injury and enjoys restored confidence.
“I want to thank the doctors who repaired my hand, for giving my life back to me,” she said. “The nurses who cared for me after my operation were very kind, and I am grateful to return home to be with my family, friends, and return to my studies.”
Daniel and his brother Dawit returned home at the end of May after a 6 month stay here in the States - Dr Steve Stanziale performed surgery in December 2010 that saved Daniel's right arm. After a good recovery , Helping Hands Board President Jeff Gelfand, contacted Dr Sarah Jamison who obtained a referral to Mike Corcoran. Mike is a certified Prosthetist who agreed to fit Daniel ( pro bono ) with a prosthesis for his left arm. Daniel's left arm was amputated, below the elbow , after unsuccessful surgery in Ethiopia.
As part of his treatment here in the States, Daniel had a vigorous physical therapy schedule at the AAMC. Anna Wisherd and other therapists helped Daniel enormously and were responsible in large part for the overall success of his treatment. The pictures below show Daniel with his therapist Anna Wisherd, being fitted with the prosthesis by Mike Corcoran, and saying goodbye to Dick and Mary Skinner after his final physical therapy session. I am a Helping Hands Board member and coordinated Daniel's transportation during his stay here. It also is fitting to acknowledge all of the volunteers, family members and Board Members who transported Daniel from Beltsville Maryland to Annapolis for his medical appointments. You all did a great job of supporting a young man in need. Well done to all of you.
Helping Hands Foundation - Annapolis, Maryland 21401